Marketing automation tools are often viewed as quick-fix for marketing teams looking to boost sales and generate consistent revenue streams. This isn’t a surprise. In the last few years, B2B digital marketing automation tools have come a long way and have proved their ability to direct leads from the top of the funnel towards the bottom.
Bain & Company reports that B2B buyers now spend more than two-thirds of their decision-making research online. There is no doubt that software can have a measurable impact on sales efforts geared towards these buyers, however, it is important to remember that marketing automation technology is not a substitute for actual marketing. Instead, marketing automation should be viewed as an important piece of a larger sales and marketing system.
Any savvy marketer understands the importance of defining measurable goals, and marketing automation should fit within larger sales and marketing objectives. Companies looking to implement a new automation technology should first decide what it is they are hoping to accomplish.
According to the 2015 Regalix Report on B2B Marketing Automation, the most common goals for B2B marketers implementing automation systems is to improve lead nurturing, improve lead quality, and increase lead generation.
While goals like these are realistic, they cannot be accomplished by marketing automation alone. Automation technology performs best when the other pieces of the system are functioning at a high level, meaning it is important to evaluate other marketing efforts prior to launching any new software.
Without a suitable volume of visitors, there won’t be any leads for the marketing automation tool to work with. It is also important to understand which channels are generating the most interest and which efforts can be improved.
Ensuring that campaigns are performing well is crucial to the success of any marketing technology.
Once leads arrive on a website, it is important to offer a road map so they don’t get lost. Ensuring that websites are conversion oriented is essential to marketing automation success.
Guiding leads towards forms and gated content gives automation tools permission to initiate contact and provides valuable information for sales teams.
Without a conversion-oriented website, leads will fumble around without direction and likely leave without providing any method for follow up or nurturing.
The final piece of any B2B digital marketing system surrounds personnel.
Marketing automation is merely a tool, and while it can help to improve efficiencies, it still requires people to operate it effectively.
It is important to have a process in place ensure that leads are scored, assigned, and followed up with correctly. Sales teams need to understand both the technical operation of the software and the reasons why certain actions should be performed.
For example, conversion software makes it easy to assign a lead to a sales rep. What takes a more in-depth understanding is knowing when a lead is ready to be contacted, and then assigning them to a rep, so that sales staff can focus on leads which are ready to buy, instead of leads earlier in the funnel.
With the concept of a sales and marketing solution in mind, it is important to understand the role marketing automation plays. Automation helps sales and marketing teams to see the bigger picture and handle leads efficiently; however, it is only successful if other elements of the system are working together as a well-oiled machine.
About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company that makes online marketing work for industrial companies. Fred was voted as one of the 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management in 2017, and his work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online. ActiveConversion is Fred’s third successful company, and he continues to explore the possibilities of technology in industrial sales and marketing.